Kristin Landau

My overall intellectual project challenges traditional ways of thinking about how states work, and about how archaeologists work within states. As an anthropologically trained archaeologist, I focus on the development of complex societies, and in particular the rise and dynamism of cities in Mesoamerica. Since 2005, I have investigated the relationship between centralized power and everyday life at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Copán, in western Honduras. Copán was a major capital of trade, artistic innovation, hieroglyphic writing, and cultural exchange during the Maya Classic Period (AD 250-900). I conduct excavations in Copán’s urban neighborhoods, revealing how commoner households, religious shrines, monumental architecture, and the overall landscape changed over time from the perspective of local people. I am also committed to local people in the present-day town of Copán, and work together with government officials, highly trained technicians, students, and other community members. My long-term goal is to collaborate with indigenous actors toward community-driven archaeological research.

As an educator, I aspire to enrich student’s lives through the teaching and practice of archaeology. In Copán, I have taught introductory anthropology to a group of indigenous high school students. At Alma, I am teaching multiple courses that address how and why anthropology matters. In our current “post-truth” age, we need to adopt critical pedagogies that instill evidence-based reasoning, quality in written and oral communication, appreciation for diversity in all of its forms, and the experience of independent research. During the 2017-2018 school year, I will emphasize such themes in the following courses:

  • ANT 111: Introduction to Anthropology (Fall and Winter)
  • ANT 213: Principles of Archaeology (Fall)
  • ANT 280: Mesoamerican Archaeology (Winter)
  • ANT 498: Research Seminar in Anthropology (Fall)
  • ANT 215/315: Michigan Archaeological Field School (Spring)

Interested? Have questions? Stop by my office or send an email. Open door policy.


Assistant Professor



Educational Background

PhD, Anthropology, Northwestern University (2016)

MA, Anthropology, Northwestern University (2011)

BA, Sociology & Anthropology, Colgate University (2007)

My career at Alma began in


My expertise:

I have conducted research in the following areas: anthropological and archaeological theory, collaborative archaeologies, social inequality, political economy, urbanism and cities, materiality, landscape archaeology, space/place, cosmology, and archaeoastronomy. I use several cross-disciplinary methods to answer my research questions, including ceramic analysis, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), compositional analysis (XRF), and soil chemistry.

Recent publications:

  • Gonlin, Nancy and Kristin Landau. Under Review. Maya on the Move: Population Mobility during the Classic Period in the Copán Valley, Honduras. In Ancient Mesoamerican Cities: Populations on the Move, ed. by M.Charlotte Arnauld, Gregory Pereira, and Christopher Beekman. Under contract with University Press of Colorado.

  • Landau, Kristin. 2015. Spatial Logic and Maya City Planning: The Case for Cosmology. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 25:275-292.
  • Landau, Kristin and Fredy Rodríguez-Mejía. 2014. La Preservación de Patrimonio Cultural en Copán, Honduras: Un Nuevo Esfuerzo. XXVII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, edited by Bárbara Arroyo and Luis Méndez Salinas. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala City.
  • Landau, Kristin and Fredy Rodríguez-Mejía. 2013. Teaching and Practicing Anthropology at the Community of San Rafael, Copán, Honduras. Indigenous Heritage: Passed to Present 3(2):4-5.

  • Landau, Kristin. 2007. Understanding Place Through Archaeoastronomy: A Cognitive Approach. Colgate Academic Review 1:25-82.

Recent presentations:

I generally present my research every year at the American Anthropological Association and Society for American Archaeology conferences. Check out my website for paper abstracts, and feel free to contact me for a copy.

  • 2018. The Dynamics of State Integration: A Neighborhood Perspective from San Lucas, Copán, Honduras. 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC, April.
  • 2017. The Power of Community Archaeology in the “Post-Truth” Era, co-chair and organizer, 116th Annual Meeting of American Anthropological Association, Washington, DC, November.
    • 2017. Critical Pedagogies and Collaborative Practices: Prioritizing Education in the Post-Truth Age. 116th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington DC, November.

  • 2017. El Santuario Rupestre de Los Sapos, Copán: Evidencias del Culto a la Fertilidad y el Agua. Karina García, Kristin Landau, Miryam Saravia, and Francisco Saravia. XVIII Coloquio Guatemalteco de Arte Rupestre, Guatemala City, Guatemala, September.
  • 2017. The Consequences of State Collapse: Evidence from the San Lucas Neighborhood during the Terminal Classic. 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, BC, Canada, April.

  • 2016. Urbanization and Ethnogenesis in the Borderlands: An Archaeological Case Study from Copán, Honduras. 115th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Minneapolis, November.
  • 2016. Copán’s Preclassic Pioneers: New Evidence from the San Lucas Neighborhood. 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, April.

Recent grants:

  • 2013-15. National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (Northwestern University)
  • 2013. InHerit Bi-directional Knowledge Exchange Grant (Northwestern University)
  • 2009-14. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (Northwestern University)

Other recent accomplishments:

Connect with me: